Drought Response Plan for Syria 2009
Syria has been affected by drought since 2006. While the 2007-2008 drought was very severe and had a wider geographical reach, the current drought has again affected a population that was already suffering from the impacts of previous drought spells. According to the Government of Syria and UN assessment missions, some 1.3 million inhabitants of eastern Syria have been affected by this disaster, out of which 803,000 have lost almost all of their livelihoods and face extreme hardship. According to the UN Needs Assessment Mission, up to 80% of those severely affected live on a diet consisting of bread and sugared tea, which only covers on average some 50% of both caloric and protein requirements. These families are not able to sustain or restore their livelihood without emergency support including food aid, farming inputs, and animal feeds, supplemented by other types of assistance.
One of the most visible effects of the drought is a dramatic increase in the already substantial migration out of the affected areas during the last year, due to loss of livelihoods and lack of income to buy food. Migration figures range from 40,000 – 60,000 families. 36,000 families have reportedly migrated from Hassakeh Governorate alone. This dramatic move often does not save the families from destitution: even in the areas where they have temporarily settled, migrants still face hardship and poverty. Communities inhabiting the drought-affected areas suffer from an acute shortage of water as many wells and rivers have dried up. Poor nutrition, heat, and dust storms have a detrimental effect on their health status. Very high levels of school drop-outs have been registered in the area, as children have migrated with their families or are required to contribute to the family income by working.
The Government and the United Nations believe that a combination of actions – food and agriculture assistance, supplemented by water and health interventions, and measures aimed at increasing drought resilience – is required to allow affected populations to remain in their villages and re-start agriculture production in October 2009. Assistance will have to continue until mid-2010, by when new crops should help to improve food security. The Syria Drought Response Plan (SDRP) has thus been developed with the aim of supplementing and enhancing the assistance already put in place by the Syrian Government. All projects have been developed and will be implemented in close coordination with the concerned authorities and targeted communities.Due to a small number of international NGOs working in Syria, the projects included in the SDRP have been presented by UN agencies, International Organization for Migration (
Through the SDRP, seven agencies seek a total of $52,938,616to work with Governmental partners and targeted communities inaddressing emergency humanitarian needs and mitigating further impacts of the drought of some 300,000 of the most vulnerable from the 1.3 million persons affected by the drought. Food, agriculture and livelihoods, including measures aimed at improving drought resilience, amount to 98% of the total requirements. Due to the timing of the agriculture season, with crops expected only in May-June 2010, this Response Plan has been prepared for a period of 12 months (August 2009 – July 2010).
The Syria United Nations Country Team dispatched two inter-agency assessment missions in 2009 to the drought affected areas: a Pre-Harvest Assessment Mission in May 2009 and an UN Joint Needs Assessment Mission in June 2009.
Please see two letters from the Government of Syria, summarizing their response to-date and assistance needs, annexed to this Response Plan.